Region AMER 2024

Region AMER 2024

Regional reports from AMER experts

The AMER region generally covers the USA, Canada and the south american countries including Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Historically, the USA was the more active region in the polymer Additive Manufacturing field compared with Europe. Lateley, new emerging sinter-based metal Additive Manufacturing technologies predominentaly come from US based companies. This report section covers regional reports of contributing local authors, who each are experts in the characteristicy of the regional Additive Manufacturing landscape.

By Fabio Sant´Ana

Status of Brazilian AM Market 2023

Similar to the global scenario, 2023 proved to be a harsh year for the local metal additive industry in Brazil. Some projects in development reached completion, while new projects are in full swing. The prevailing metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology remains Powder Bed Fusion (PBF), but new technologies are emerging. Directed Energy Deposition (DED) processes, specifically DED Wire Arc (DED-Arc/Wire) and DED Laser Powder (DED-LB/Powder), are gaining attention, supported by numerous initiatives from Research Institutes such as Senai-MG, Senai-ISILaser-SC, and Uberlandia University (UFU). For DED, the primary focus remains on applications in the Oil & Gas sector, primarily driven by PETROBRAS. In this context, Bahia’s CIMATEC has entered the scene, with plans to commence projects involving DED-LB/Powder and Wire in the first quarter of 2024. At higher Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), widespread adoption is yet to be observed.

Binder Jetting (BJT): Although there are not many machines available yet, significant attention has been directed toward this sinter-based process. Both sand molds and final parts produced through Binder Jetting are being considered in evaluations for new projects. Brazil, with its substantial potential in foundry and casting, boasting almost 3 million tons of parts annually [1] has seen the first sand Binder Jetting machine in operation in the state of Santa Catarina. More machines are expected, and metal Binder Jetting machines are receiving increasing quotes across the country. Binder Jetting Technology, utilizing sand, PMMA, and metal feedstock, is attracting considerable attention.

Regarding higher TRL: Medical companies continue to lead in industrial use, particularly in the utilization of the biocompatible Ti64, running on dominant PBF machines. Ti64 remains dominant in feedstock in Brazil. The industry has surpassed academia in the number of machines in use. The top player in this segment, with eight machines in the country, is leading the charge. Newcomers in the PBF segment include conformal cooling applications, currently relying on low-capacity local service providers or established overseas bureaus and mother companies. Additionally, material suppliers are venturing into projects involving aluminum and steel to enable Brazil to produce its feedstock.

Source: [1] ABIFA, access date: December 2023

Fabio Sant’Ana
Fabio graduated in Precision Mechanics by the Swiss Brazilian Senai School and College and received Bachelors degree in Business Administration by Universidade Paulista. He has 30 years of experience in helping companies to acquire and make the most of manufacturing equipment. As an entrepreneur and avid for knowledge, Fabio is a member of the ASTM (F42 Additive Manufacturing committee / Member 2066434), ABNT (CEE-261 Additive Manufacturing and CB-26 Dental Medical-Hospital / Member 578499), specialist and “Head of Delegation” representing Brazil in the plenary and technical meetings of ISO TC261 – Additive Manufacturing. Complementary he is “Community Manager” in Brazil of 3DHeals International, an organization that encourages the use of Additive Manufacturing in Medicine. With many courses in the areas of CAD/CAM, Surface Modeling and AM, he graduated in EBM Additive Manufacturing by Arcam AB, Sweden and in Mill-Turn Machining at Willemin-Macodel, Switzerland. Fabio is motivated by connecting people and companies with the right tools.

By Rajeev Kulkarni

Status quo of AM in Northern America

The slowdown in the macro-economy had a cascading effect on several key areas within the North American Additive Manufacturing (AM) industry and in various aspects, 2023 marked a year of ‘right-sizing.’

This adjustment became apparent through several discernible trends. Notably, there was a substantial decline in the value of SPAC-based public OEMs, a reduction in M&A and investment activity compared to the previous year, reduced AM demand across multiple segments, including dental, an absence of tangible success metrics from the US Government’s AM Forward program, and a difficult year in terms of printer shipments with strong competition from China.

Despite these challenges and unfavorable growth trends, certain areas saw positive developments. Notably, there was synergistic acquisition activity, a few large application-centric investment rounds, an increased focus on AM adoption to optimize supply chain efficiency, a growing commitment to onshoring manufacturing, heightened attention from the Department of Defense (DoD) in funding projects related to metal AM adoption. The year also proved pivotal, witnessing the threshold-crossing for 3D concrete printing, where emerging opportunities and business models started to become evident.

A closer examination of these trends yields key insights. Major US-based SPACs, including DESKTOP METAL, VELO3D, SHAPEWAYS, MARKFORGED, and FAST RADIUS, experienced considerable drops in value, reflecting performance below lofty expectations. Additionally, SMILE DIRECT, working in the multi-billion-dollar business of dental aligners that use AM as enabling technology, declared bankruptcy due to operational failures. The industry faced distractions, notably the unsuccessful attempts by North American companies, DESKTOP METAL, and 3D SYSTEMS, to merge with STRATASYS.

Early round capital decreased compared to prior years, placing startups that are yet to mature for Series B/C funding, in precarious positions. Notable investments and mergers included,

– ALIGN TECHNOLOGY acquiring polymer 3D printing company CUBICURE.
– 3D SYSTEMS acquiring SLS company WEMATTER.
– META acquiring 3D printed optics firm LUXEXCEL.
– GM acquiring TOOLING & EQUIPMENT INTERNATIONAL for its AM gigacasting technology used by TESLA.
– ICON raising USD 185 million in investment for 3D printing construction technology.
– SPRINTRAY raising USD 100 million as a 3D printer OEM focused on digital dentistry.
– DIVERGENT TECHNOLOGIES raising USD 230 million in a Series D round.

In 2023, the US government further increased support for advanced manufacturing, announcing investments and initiatives to boost the US advanced manufacturing sector. This included establishing the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience and significant funding for battery and semiconductor manufacturing to enhance the domestic production of critical technologies, such as advanced batteries, semiconductors, and 3D printed components for aerospace and defense applications. The goal is to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base, promote reshoring, and accelerate AM adoption to ensure a more resilient and innovative manufacturing sector.

Among other notable North American milestones, U.S. President Biden awarded Chuck Hull, the co-founder of 3D SYSTEMS, the 2023 National Medal of Technology and Innovation for starting the 3D Printing industry. Additionally, RELATIVITY SPACE semi-successfully launched the world’s first 3D printed rocket, consisting of 85% 3D printed parts.

Finally, an increasing demand exists for companies to bridge gaps in the AM workflow. A dynamic ecosystem of enterprises has risen to meet these demands, specifically focusing on software for AM design assessment, manufacturing execution systems (MES), part preparation software, post-processing solutions, and workflow automation.

Rajeev Kulkarni
As an accomplished entrepreneur and executive, Rajeev, in his role as the Chief Strategy Officer of Axtra3D, brings extensive leadership experience in the fields of 3D Printing, business strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A true innovator, he joined 3D Systems in the early 1990s, playing a pivotal role in inventing various aspects of five distinct 3D Printing platforms (SLA, Inkjet, DLP, SLS, Paste) and leading the growth of the 3D Printing Industry. His achievements include multiple US and international patents, along with receiving multiple “Outstanding Innovation of the Year” awards. During his tenure, he led global R&D for all products, established the desktop 3D Printer business, and most recently, managed all M&A activities.
Rajeev is also the founding member of the Inception Micro Angel Fund and the Charlotte Angels Fund in Charlotte. Recognizing his expertise, the Governor of North Carolina appointed him to the North Carolina Governors’ Entrepreneurship Council, where he provides guidance on expanding statewide entrepreneurship. He has been honored with the “40-Under-40” award by the Charlotte Business Journal.

Data and sources

Published: 14 March 2024

Source: AMPOWER / authors as described

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